Winning is hard. Sustaining a winning pace is even harder. The Detroit Tigers are going through some growing pains this season and there are going to be highs and lows. Lots of ups and lots of downs. Their first two series of the second half against the Twins and Rangers featured lots of ups. Getting swept by Kansas City this weekend was quite a downer.
Detroit now heads to Minnesota to take on the Twins. We’ll see Matt Manning and Michael Pineda in this one. Pineda looks to be one of the top pitchers on the trade market with a 3.93 ERA and a 4.29 FIP. The pickings are slim as hell out there for teams in need of starting pitching help and depth, so some team may end up paying a pretty big ransom for Pineda, who has a profile that I don’t really like.
Pineda has been limited to 13 starts and 66.1 innings this season, as he’s dealt with injuries once again. His fastball velocity is also the lowest of his career. He has been able to pitch around a 42.6% Hard Hit%, as he only has a .283 BABIP. That would be the lowest of his career since making 13 starts in 2014. I don’t really see that as sustainable, whether that means with the Twins or with a new team.
Under the “Things I Never Thought I’d See” heading, the Tigers have a .329 wOBA over the last 30 days. The Twins have a .309 wOBA and just traded away a big bat in Nelson Cruz. I think a lot of bettors, myself included, are still operating under this idea that the Twins have a good offense, but they just haven’t really had one for the last several weeks. For the season, the Twins are still better than the Tigers, but the Tigers are going in a positive direction and the Twins are not.
I know that Matt Manning has that big 5.79 ERA for the Tigers, but he has one bad start. He gave up nine runs in 3.2 innings to the Indians on June 28 in a game that just completely spiraled out of control for him. Otherwise, he’s allowed two runs in each of his other five starts and just had a really good effort against the Rangers last time out. It’s the Rangers, so you take it with a grain of salt, obviously, but Manning isn’t nearly as bad as his stats would suggest.
The lack of strikeouts is a bit odd and potentially worrisome, but he’s been locating pretty well. His last three starts have been his three lowest from an exit velocity standpoint, so that’s good.
Ultimately, I just look at this line and agree with the initial market move that the Twins don’t deserve to be this big of a favorite. I know that the Tigers came back to earth over the weekend, but the Twins are a bad team and they’re looking to keep selling. Max Kepler’s name is being rumored now. Minnesota’s bullpen has been bad all season. There just aren’t enough reasons to line them this high.
I’ll give the underdog Tigers a look tonight.